April 22, 2014

Misadventures in Shawls, Part 1: Looking for Yarn in All the Wrong Places

So, among all the many things I've been doing recently, I've planned out and have started a lace shawl.

A couple of noteworthy things about this:
  • This is only the third shawl I've ever knitted (in the about 4 years I've been knitting), and the first one was all garter stitch so it doesn't count
  • This is only the second large lace project I've ever knitted
  • This is my first project with beads
  • I made the last lace shawl over two years ago, and it took me six months to complete it
  • The shawl is for my sister.  For her wedding.  In August.  Which gives me four months to do it.
It's not that I've been procrastinating.  The first problem was that the planning part took a couple of months.  The reason it took so much time wasn't the time spent looking for the perfect pattern (I found that rather quickly), or even getting my sister to tell me what she wanted (though that took some effort).  It was finding the yarn.

You see, when you agree to attempt to first match the dress (which is a slightly off-white color), its bad.  Luckily the bride-to-be then stated the preference of having the shawl match the bridesmaids dresses, which were described to me as 'similar to this dark royal blue dress I'm wearing' (which, if you've read my blog, you'll know is my favorite color).  For which I was very happy because finding that color yarn shouldn't be hard, right?  I buy it all the time.

A couple of things about that:
  • The color of the bridesmaids dress wasn't quite that dark royal blue I love, it was a medium blue that loves to change colors in different lighting (thank you to the people who suggested I could buy a swatch instead of trying to judge it on the computer screen.  That seriously didn't occur to me)
  • Any blue color around it loves to change colors in different lighting...including on a computer screen
  • The amount of lace weight yarn I would consider 'wedding worthy' (read: has a good silk content and/or is smooth and shiny) contains a lot less variety than you'd think
  • That color is hard to find in nice lace weight yarn 
This resulted in several things happening:
  • Having to send back $70 dollars worth of yarn because I jumped the gun and bought it without seeing the dress at all (including computer), and it wasn't the right color (didn't help that the picture made it look darker as well).  Which somehow went the way of Alaska to get back to the west coast, just making it there by the return deadline.  Good old USPS.
  • Having to send back another skein of yarn because it was a completely different color blue than it looked in the photo
  • Running to one yarn store and finding nothing
  • Running to another yarn store and coming back with a 100% wool, single-ply skein that nevertheless was at least close to the right color
  • Running to a third yarn store and ending up with a nice 100% silk yarn that was a variegated...dark navy blue
  • Running to a fourth yarn store and after not finding anything there yarn-wise, bought needles that I thought I'd need (turns out I had to go up a size for gauge, so no dice there either) Oh, did I mention that I don't live anywhere near a yarn store, so running involves more than one subway/bus?
  • Realizing that I had bought the same brand of yarn the last two times, and if I could find the 100% yarn in the wool yarn's colorway, I'd be golden
  • Finding said colorway in the silk yarn online (yes!)
  • Getting it a week later to find out that...it may be the same colorway, but they were not the same color (but it's close enough to the dress so screw it)
  • Went looking for beads, and when I couldn't find some that matched the yarn, bought a bunch of cordinated ones
  • One, and my favorite of the bunch, of which didn't fit my smallest crochet hook, so I went to a craft store when up at my parents' house to get a smaller one...which was also too big
  •  Going and after checking a sewing supply store for the hook (of which, despite the type of store, they carried a lot of, just not smaller than what I already owned), buying more beads that were similar and bigger than the ones I bought...only to find a smaller crochet hook in a beading store
So yeah, it took me some time.

Here's the two skeins of yarn I got at the local yarn stores:

I really like the dark blue color one, but it doesn't work for this shawl

 And here's the yarn on the left with it's 100% silk, same colorway counterpart:

Yes, that is the same colorway, I swear.  Madelinetosh's Lapis colorway in Prairie (L) and Pure Silk Lace (R)
I don't think I need to tell you that nothing pictured here looks exactly like the color in the photos.  The bottom one is closer to true color, though.

Oh, and some beads:

My sister ended up liking the ones on the far left, though I liked the ones right next to it (those are the evil smaller beads).  I've started using the far left ones, and also these:

Which is kind of a blend between the ones I liked and the ones she liked.  I dunno if I'll still use the other ones.

And this is only the beginning.  The fun didn't end there, but I'll save it for another post.  I better go work on the shawl now (or, more realistically, I'll do a couple of pattern repeats and then go play Skyrim.  Because nothing beats a deadline like procrastination).